Please Pardon My MisEducation

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rolling Stones Aging Bones

Wednesday afternoon my phone rang at work. A friend of mine on the other end.

"I've got tickets for the Stones tonight that I can't use. Do you want them?"

I couldn't use them. Rhiana had a doctor's appointment down city Providence at 6 and the concert was at Gillette Stadium starting at 7. Even if she was in and out in a half hour we wouldn't make it in time.

"Sorry man, I'd love to see Mick and the boys before they start to keel over dead, but I can't do it."

I hang up the phone and email Rhi. She wants the tickets. She called and said we could make it in time because the Stones wouldn't hit the stage until 9 or so. We'd undoubtedly miss the starting act, but who really cares.

Now earlier in the day I'd already been to Gillette for the bank's annual shareholders meeting with my boss. He WAS going to the concert. While we were at the shareholders meeting we could see into the stadium that had the full stage already set to go for the evening's performance. I prodded him a couple of times about the appearance of wheel chair ramps on the stage and how they'd be put to good use with the top billed act all at the average age of about 76 (really only about 60).

Back to the opening act...I looked it up online. I wanted to know what I would be missing to see if I could (or should) press any harder to be there early. Kanye West. I immediately called off the dogs. Getting to Foxboro by 9 was just fine by me.

As we arrived off of route 1 and paid $40 to make Bob Kraft even wealthier (it's only $20 to park for Patsy...I mean Patriot games.) The lights were on in the stadium so we arrived in between acts. We jumped out of our car and crossed over with the rest of the foot traffic on route one. All along the way the excitment was building inside see these legendary icons of music.

When we got to the ticket gates Rhiana and I were separated. Women through two sets of gates signes indicating how they should choose. One for women with bags and for women without bags. Men were all shuffled into one line...ironically it was a line that had a sign stating "Men with bags." Two frat boys in front of me snickering while joking about "man satchels" alluding to a man carrying a bag must be homosexual. I just thought to myself..."You idiots don't get it...every man has a bag."

We crossed the wide pavillion separating the East and West sections of the stadium...right around the time we hit the center of standing room only and the general admission area, the lights went out, the crowd roared, and fireworks climbed into the sky above the stage. The snare drum snapped at a feverish pace and my favorite baseline accompanied by Mick Jaggers entrancing voice snaked thru "Painted Black."

We finally got to our seats and sat down and were able to focus on the stage. Mick Jagger hasn't lost a step and truly his voice was the only worthy part of the entire production. He immediately gained the audience's attention when he was talking about the last time he'd been to Gillette and mentioned the New England Patriots to which I turned to Rhi and said "I wonder how much Bob Kraft had to pay to get that done?" Needless to say that did not make me popular with those sitting around us.

Keith Richards DID NOT look good. At one point he missed several bridges in a song in which he was singing. Not untypical for a lead vocalist at a live concert, but when it was obviousl he was going to continue to miss the bridges and the song was running unbelievably long the rythm guitarist came up and gave him a nudge. Richards smiled after the song and lit up a cigarette. Nearly falling over he grabbed the microphone and muttered, "I needed that." And followed it up after a few deep puffs with, "It's been a long year." I'm thinking it's been a long 60 years for that old guy.

As we sat mostly and listened to the music it was interesting to hear them play all the old tunes. I heard a little of almost every mainstream band from today in what I heard from the Stones that night. It signified to me just how much influence this band has had on music over the last 40 plus years. It also gives perspective on just what it means to see them live and what a priveledge it is to do so, especially at this point in their career. This very well could be their last tour together.

We left a little early as we both had to work on Thursday and didn't want to sit in traffic before the 40 minute drive home. I've never been a huge fan of the Stones. I really only own one album of theirs. I do however know what they represent and I'm glad that had the opportunity to go see them live.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Sold My Soul To George Steinbrenner

Rhiana is a New York Yankees fan. So she says.

She has a few Yankees caps, no t-shirts, and no jerseys hanging proudly in her closet. She has never been to Yankee Stadium in her 28 years as a "Yankees Fan."

I am a Red Sox fan. I have two Boston "B" hats currently in use and several more retired. I have a half dozen t-shirts I refuse to get rid of which is actually staind with my own blood. I have a Schilling jersey which only goes to the dry cleaner when its time to be freshened up. In four years of living on the East Coast I've been to nine (two against the hated Yankees) Red Sox games. Would have been more except tickets are wicked expensive since the WS win in '04.

Rhiana's father is a Yankees fan and this is how Rhiana's allegiance has been designated. By default she follows her father's lead. He IS a Yankees fan. He goes to at least two games a year in New York. He has a picture of himself and Derek Jeter. And here's the kicker...if we go to his house and I'm wearing RedSox gear...he absolutely refuses to shake my hand.

I like to prod Rhiana about her Yankee allegiance. She has this habbit (like most Yankees fans do) of rubbing salt in the wounds of RedSox fans about the success of the Yankees throughout the history of baseball. I immediately return fire by quizzing her regarding her knowledge of Yankees baseball.

For instance...I ask questions like, "Who plays third base for the Yankees?" She laughs and says, "That's easy. Jason Giambi."

Just like the Family Feud the big red 'X' blares over the TV screen, she has failed to answer question 1 correctly.


So I try to make it easier on her. "Who plays shortstop for the New York Yankees?"
Confidently she answers, "A-rod."


"Oh so close!!!! That was the correct answer to question number one. The answer you were looking for here is Derek Jeter."

She is getting a bit annoyed by this line of question, but does it get any easier? She knows that both of those guys play for the Yankees, but she is so far detached from being a fan that she has no idea what position they play. Even the most distant fan should know these things.

And so I move on..."Who is Brian Cashman?"

A delayed reaction speaks all that needs to be spoken. I can litterally see her scratching her head. And with a dazed look on her face she says, "He plays third base for the RedSox?"


She has continually challenged me with the Yankees history but yet she knows so very little about them today.

So yesterday when we were watching Mike and Mike in the Morning (I was watching she was reading a magazine) there was talk about Barry Bonds leaving the Giants after this year and signing with another team, possibly in the American League, next season.
Immediately I started in on the Yankees. I told her that if the RedSox sign Bonds and he breaks the homerun record I will burn all of my RedSox merchandise and switch.

Yes that's right. I will jump to the Evil Empire. The New York Yankees. But only if Bonds signs with Boston and breaks Hank Aaron's prestigious record as a member of the RedSox.

Now, you might be saying to yourself that is the most gruesome sellout of all time. How could I do that? Betray Boston.

First off, it's a very long shot that Bond's would receive any type of offer from Theo Epstien, Larry Lucchino, and most certainly John Henry. They all have very respectable baseball status and would most doubtedly not risk blemishing it by signing someone as controversial as Bonds.

Second, the RedSox do not need Bonds or his homeruns. They have Big Pappi and he ain't going nowhere. Bonds would only fit in as a DH because his chemically enhanced body is finally giving way and he'd struggle to glove any position on defense...yes, even first base.

Finally, Bonds would never EVER sign with any team in the AL East, EXCEPT....the New York Yankees. It's obvious Bonds is after a final payday and George Steinbrenner is just the idiot to give it to him. It is becoming more clear that Gary Sheffield is on his way out of Yankee Stadium which provides Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman (no he doesn't play third base for the Sox, he's the GM of the Yankees) with reason to hire a big gun. And Steinbrenner loves to make statements about how much money the Yankees can throw around. What better way to do it than spend money (probably big money) on a guy who could break Aaron's record, perhaps the greatest record in all of sports, at Yankee Stadium?

So there it is. Me selling out to the Yankees. Why it is possible, it won't happen, and why my wife is the biggest fan of a team she doesn't even know.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Iron Mike

I have the day off of work today. It's raining and other than cleaning there's not a whole lot to do. I've been to the bank and run all my errands.So with boredom pretty much finding me today I turned on the TV and flipped to good ole ESPN.

Much to my delight they are replaying fights from Mike Tyson's early years. At first I wasn't sure who it was that was fighting. The graphics were horrible and the fight had not yet started. The commentator is describing the first boxer as a laid off cole miner from the Virginia hills. He's 6' 4" and weighs in at 230. He has won 154 amatuer fights and after a three year layoff in the cole mines he's returned to boxing and started a professional career. His name is John Alderson. He's 29 years old and he's undefeated so far in his brief professional boxing career and so is his challenger. He comes into the fight with a perfect, yet thin, four and 0 record.

The camera then pans over to the opponent's corner to reveal a shorter muscular man walking furiously from rope to rope. The 19 year old kid from the streets of Catskill, New York has not even the faintest scent of doubt in his mind...his name not yet "Iton" but is absolutely Mike Tyson. Also at 4-0 for his professional career Tyson is obviously giving up height and reach, yet the crowd cheers for him as the announcer calls out his now legendary name.

The bell rings. Within 15 seconds Alderson's nose is is bleeding red like a crushed tomatoe. After a minute Tyson has had Alderson on the ropes twice and has landed several full strength swings and narrowly missed on a half dozen others. It is obvious Alderson won't last much longer.

The bell rings and ESPN goes to a commercial break. As most channel surfers do I begin surfing through other stations.

Five minutes later, I'm back to ESPN...

Not only was I right that Alderson would not last much longer, but in those short five minutes Tyson had jumped from a mere 4-0 record all the way to 11-0...that's right folks...six wins in less than 5 minutes. Tyson is now fighting another man. Again giving height, weight, and reach advantages Tyson continued to redefine what at the time was called Heavy Weight Boxing. Houston's Eddie Richardson who would also succumb to Tyson in the first round. Alderson was lucky...he made it to the second.

I looked up some info on Tyson. Mostly because I grew up following Tyson's career. He is the great fighter of my lifetime. Yes, Ali, Leonard, and Camacho have all been around, but they were one (or more) generations older than mine. Tyson was the fighter of the eighties and nineties. I looked thru some of his records and found some very interesting statistics that maybe have been overshadowed by his ruthless self implosion over the last 15 years.
In his first year as a professional fighter (1985) Tyson fought 15 fights. He would need only 21 rounds to dismantle 15 opponents. Thats a ridiculous average of 1.4 rounds per opponent. The longest match lasted only four rounds. The lucky opponent was Don Halpern. Based on a standard google search for that name only reveals that the highlight of his career was that four round match with Tyson.

Tyson's heavyweight career ended at an official at 50-6 with 44 wins by knockout. He fought an amazing 35 fights in the first four years of his controversial career without a single loss.
Despite the staggering numbers Tyson's career will always live in the shadows of his incidents in and out of the ring. However, when I was watching the early match this afternoon I saw the most grueling and devastating boxer I've ever seen fight. Tyson was so compact and it seemed like he could throw knockout punches litterally while standing straight up on his feet. His arm were like cannons delivering heavy artillery to the head and body of a hardhat wearing, lunch pale carrying cole miner. Tyson had no fear. He immediately claimed the middle of the ring. His opponenet obivously did not know (or I should say could not know) how to counter this "Iron" man standing before him.

In 1986 Mike Tyson stood, much the same as he does today, at 5'11" and what could only have been a feather over 200 pounds and destroyed all of those that came to challenge him.
Sources: Tyson's record. Tyson's Background.